Explosion of big data ‘creates demand for experts and technology’

The global "explosion" of big data has caused rising levels of demand for specialists who can help organizations to cope with the volumes of digital information they hold.

This includes being able to exploit the competitive advantages offered by the big data era, as firms can use analytics and business intelligence solutions to gain fresh insights into their markets and customers, and to enhance their decision-making capabilities.

A new article in the New York Times by technology reporter Steve Lohr points to the sharp increase in data consultants around the world and a prediction by the McKinsey Global Institute that 140,000 to 190,000 extra professionals with "deep analytical" experience will be needed in the US as evidence of the sector's rapid expansion.

Politicians are also turning to big data to improve their understanding of their electorate, with the Washington Post recently pointing to analysis of Twitter posts being conducted in the run up to the US elections later this year and Mr Lohr explains blogs, press releases, speeches and articles are also being mined for useful information.

"The story is similar in fields as varied as science and sports, advertising and public health – a drift toward data-driven discovery and decision-making," he stated, quoting Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science director Gary King as saying "there is no area that is going to be untouched" by big data.

IDC estimates volumes of digital information are expanding by 50 per cent annually and doubling every two years, with data being generated by websites, organizations and even wireless sensors such as smart meters.

Social networks are being transformed by the expansion of digital records, with huge digital data sets mined for details and data measurement making it possible to "measure behavior and sentiment in fine detail and as it happens" around the world through the use of sources such as Facebook posts and tweets, according to Mr Lohr.

A blog post on Social@Ogilvy proposed big data and analytics tools will play a significant role in the future of social media, with the blog's vice president Geoffrey Colon claiming we are in a new emerging era of social media analytics, which will "help organizations relate to the world within social at a better pace".

Mr Colon, who is also editor of the Futurist Lab on Tumblr, explained with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced daily, information can be used to shape content creation through exploring what people are "saying, doing sharing and thinking in real time".

He added: "Big data can actually let us know what people want to talk about based on analytical analysis rather than hedging that bet."